Almost three years ago we were visited by this horrible Pandemic, now life is beginning to return to the new normal. Many businesses have failed, many marijuana stores have opened replacing long vacant, shut down bodegas. On streets the smell of pot fills the air, oh well I guess we need the tax revenue. The Aristocratic Deli, in my building nearly 50 years, has failed and remains closed and papered over. Just today I noticed that our last 7/11 has now closed (no great loss).
That said some establishments seem to be hanging on, and even thriving. Excellent Dumpling House is doing a brisk businesses and offers a 10% cash discount. Malibu Dinner, who did very well on take out and delivery businesses during lock down has substantially raised it’s prices, which does not seem to be keeping people away. The Cooper Still is packing them in both inside and outside, I will have to give it a try someday, curious.
New and retooled joints have opened as well. The Chelsea Hotel, although not done with their problematical renovation is serving upscale out of towners. El Quixote has reopened, smaller with new management and a new menu, big shoes to fill there. On 7th Ave a new counter service Thai restaurant has taken the place that Fast Wok once served good and inexpensive Chinese Food. I have noticed that Items are running 5 to 10 bucks more on your check. I was shocked when a breakfast at Malibu Dinner ran me $24 without the tip!
I am pleased to report that one of my favorite Chelsea haunts, the vintage shop Eye Candy is going strong. Stop in for your vintage clothing and accessory needs, in this well stocked and beautifully merchandised treasure trove. A great place for your Halloween needs, a personal indulgence or a thoughtful gift. This little oasis is a very special Chelsea destination.
The Halloween Parade is on again and it seems that we will have a holiday season that will include travel and family visits for many. For me it has been a challenging time, illnesses and hospitalization have defined my Summer. Months latter I am feeling more like myself but playing catch up with my life. I am the proud new owner of my dream camera plus a couple of new lenses. Soon I will launch a Blog dedicated to my photography. In the mean time I intend to stay busy and fit and hope that you all can do the same.
Often when I am at a funeral or memorial service, and I hear a friend or family member go on and on about their relationship with the deceased, I get short of temper and silently wish that they would stop talking about themselves and just pay homage to the newly departed soul.
In the case of Michael Wilmington, film critic, film scholar, screenwriter, actor, director, and child of the 60s, I find it impossible. My unbridled desire is to celebrate his extraordinary life and the influence that he had on a very formative time in my life.
I have put on a pot of coffee and will share these remembrances:
When I first met Mike, he was writing for Madison, Wisconsin’s underground newspaper Take Over under the nom de guerre The Wiz. Other reviews would run occasionally in The Capitol Times. I was well aware of his scholarly pieces in the Wisconsin Film Society’s journal The Velvet Light Trap and his book on John Ford with Joseph McBride. What set Michael apart from his colleagues was not only his encyclopedic knowledge but also his clear brisk prose; all points were well taken, and every adjective was in its proper place and doing its intended job.
When I became arts editor of The Daily Cardinal, I had the opportunity to run some of Mike’s longer pieces, including a retrospective on Roberto Rossellini and a very tight obit for Charley Chaplin, who had passed away while we were composing the Cardinal film Issue. He pulled this together in less than 20 minutes, and to this day, it is one of my very favorites.
This was before there was a Chinese wall between production and theory. Perhaps taking a page from the critics at Calais du Cinema, a lot of the Madison writers sought to cross over to production. After all, didn’t Roger Ebert in Chicago, sell to Russ Myers? Joe McBride went to work for Roger Corman (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School). Mike went to work with Barry Alexander Brown (The War at Home and Wild Style) on a sci-fi, 3D project about what a bowling alley might be like in the year 2500 as well as the thriller Disco Psycho. Mike would also let me know about rewrites and story synopses he would do for friends or colleagues, sometimes taking payment in a 16mm print of one of his favorite films for his ever growing film collection.
Mike was also a very talented actor and director. He did a season of summer stock theater in Door County where he befriended Harrison Ford. I will never forget the production of Zoo Story performed at the altar of the university Catholic Center, in which he played the antagonist and directed. He was an antagonist in a way to all of us, criticizing, illuminating, and inspiring.
Mike was also a victim of his times. He would walk State Street conspicuously dressed as Zorro, black cape, black hat, red neck piece. One day a mentally ill man assaulted him, for no apparent reason, from behind with a hammer. Mike nearly died and suffered the mental and physical aftereffects of this attack for many years. Later he would ask me to interview the assailant’s brother so that he could have a more complete understanding of the incident. When Alan Ginsburg came to Madison for a poetry event, Mike was in attendance, and Ginsburg silently walked up to him and kissed the prominent scar on his cranium.
I once attended the New York Film Festival with Michael and watched him intrigue the likes of Truffaut, Kurosawa, and De Palma, who all were well aware of the work he did and recognized him as a giant in film history and theory.
Mike was most concerned with his next assignment. He loved being alone with his films, his books, and of course, his devoted mom, Edna, who would listen in on our conversations and cook hamburgers and hand make coleslaw for us.
I last spent time with Mike at the Cardinal Centennial in 1993. We had a very nice short catch up over cocktail hour, with neither of us partaking. Later that evening, I felt the need to walk off the memories and found myself doing a couple of laps around the state capitol. I looked up, and there was Wilmington; we started off where we had left off – Sam Fuller, Nick Ray, D Sirk, the state of the latest indie trends. Oh my, what a mind you had. It was a blessing to know you Mike.
For many years, my Mom would grouse like clockwork over the commercialization of the holidays. True in my home town, Christmas decorations would adorn our downtown, first after Thanksgiving, then before Thanksgiving, then early November, then before Halloween, and finally before Columbus Day. It does make you wonder why they don’t leave them up all year, perhaps taking their inspiration from singer-songwriter John Prine who was famous for leaving his Christmas tree up all year.
There is a real difference here. On the one hand, we have a recording artist and ace singer-songwriter expressing gratitude, and perhaps a bit of kitsch, and on the other hand, we have the over-commercialization of what is not only a very lovely time to be with family and friends, but also a time for joy and to renew our spiritual connections, sharing light amidst winter’s dark days. For me, it starts with Halloween, a holiday devoted to sweets, pranks (hopefully benign), and dressing up so you can be whoever you want to be, a very nice concept indeed, with pumpkins abounding.
On to Trader Joe’s for a look into pumpkin products and the Pumpkin Spice Economy. I have posted for many years of my unbridled love for Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix. This year, it was hard to find. In past years, I would buy two or three boxes at a time, salting them away, opening my last box in April with the start of the baseball season. Pumpkin spice is not only delicious it also reminds us that pumpkin, like most orange-colored foods, is a superfood, both nutritious and delicious. Could it be that a food reminiscent of the sun setting over the beach or mountains proves that we are organically drawn to relieve seasonal depression?
Thankfully, I did find TJ’s Pumpkin Bread Mix, but sadly the only pumpkin pancake mix I could find was gluten-free, which actually looks quite good. Several years back, I lobbied Trader Joe’s to please bring in some horseradish-based items. Horseradish, like many winter root vegetables, is craved by the body as the winter solstice approaches and through the dark months. For me, horseradish is a tonic for my inflamed sinuses and a general, metabolic tonic. Trader Joe’s began to stock horseradish hummus and a horseradish-dressing sauce for roasted meats or vegetables, both delicious, and sadly both no longer stocked. Ask for it!
I have several friends and neighbors who swore by TJ’s horseradish hummus, so possibly its low sales numbers were due to the poor merchandising of the hummus offerings. I often had to dig through regular hummus, garlic hummus, and basil hummus in search of horseradish hummus. But was just through that digging that I hit pay dirt. I passed on the chocolate hummus and had to laugh when I found myself eyeing pumpkin spice hummus. I picked up a couple of these and tried it with both roasted and blanched vegetables – kind of sweet but very tasty – and that gave me an idea. I picked up a ready-baked pie crust, et voila, I had a great no-bake pumpkin pie!
A quick scan of pumpkin spice numbers on the WWW yielded these numbers, all prepandemic. According to Nielsen, consumers spent about one-half-billion dollars on pumpkin spice products in 2019. Yahoo Finance reports that you can get pumpkin spice chips, beverages, baked goods, Bud Light, and even Pumpkin Spice Cup Noodles. So indulge whether you are roasting a whole pumpkin to be enjoyed in a vegan feast, or if you are online at McD’s for your pumpkin spice latte, enjoy. Pumpkin spice will get you through these dark days. Happy Holidays to All!
You can’t call David Craig Ellis a pussy. His response to my question of how prepared he was for these unfathomable, trying times without hesitation was, “Everything from my time in Canada camping in the woods, with nothing to living on a park bench in Washington Square Park to being homeless in Toronto [prepared me].”
“I’ve been through the mill. I’ve been tested by fires, floods, robberies, you name it. I’ve been getting a life of preparation for this. Although this might not be pleasant, it’s nothing that I can’t handle. As long as I have a cup of coffee, a pen, and a piece of paper, I’m happy. I really don’t need anything. Eventually, I may need an egg or an English muffin. I have coffee here; I have lots of pens and tons of scrap paper. I’m OK. That’s a lengthy gratitude list for me right there.”
When I called David Craig Ellis in his upstate studio and domicile, he was in day three of his treatment for infection with the Covid-19 virus. I have come to know and love Dave through the years and was deeply concerned for my now sick friend. He wouldn’t have anything of it. “It’s been a challenging week. This last week has been challenging enough, let alone this last year. I can tell you that it hasn’t been pleasant; I can tell you that it’s been pretty bad. It feels evil, like there’s an evil sickness that is embedded way down in my soul.”
“I can’t wait for it to go away, but I can describe to you how I feel now. I feel nauseous. I feel like I have a baseball sized lump of concrete embedded in my skull, which is kind of pushing and trying to get out, causing a pounding headache and making my ears ring like a fire alarm. I have been sick to my stomach. I am freezing with chills, but I am sweating. And then on top of it all, I can’t taste, and I can’t smell, so pizza is out of the question. All my favorite foods just basically go into a blender, and I am sucking it up through a straw. One of my friends brought me 50 drinking straws – that was great!”
Now that we know how you have been keeping busy over the past week, tell me how have you been keeping busy over the past year?
“Yes, in many ways it has been a satisfying year. As you know, I build recording studios, and I have been able to work on a project doing that in Bushwick. So I still come back and forth, wearing a mask. I commute actually quite a lot. I still have my studio in Dumbo, and when the lockdown was initially lifted, I was working there but keeping pretty much to myself. So I have been on my own but getting a lot done.”
“I have had the time to experiment with different kinds of paint and different media. It’s basically been me and a cat, locked up in this house, and as long as I do the paintings in a room where he won’t walk on them, then I ‘m able to do the experimenting and have fun with it. I am sticking to my style. I don’t stray too much from my subject matter and my characters. I don’t stray too much from my overall theme. But the way that I am applying paint has led to more experimentation.”
What does it mean to own David Craig Ellis?
“First of all my old man, when I was I kid and I would say ‘I want a bicycle; I want a new TV; I want you to buy me this; I want you to buy me that,’ he would say, ‘Buy me; buy me,’ as if to say that he would not be forced into buying my love, that it would not come down to me accepting him for his showering me with gifts. But in this day and age, buy me, buy me, is a whole different concept for me. You can buy all sorts of things that I have created online in the shop on my website www.davidcraigellis.com, but I also have NFTs that you can now purchase, essentially a representation of a painting that boils down to a serial number.
“Perhaps last week when I was thinking that I might die of Covid, I was thinking that this may be a good time to buy David Craig Ellis, that I may die, and my work would go up in value. Sorry to disappoint, but I thought that it could be this week by the way that I was feeling. For the most part, I price everything really low, some of which I freely give away. I just want to get my stuff out there. If I can give something to someone and it means something, that is more important to me than selling right now at a high price and hoarding all the money. I have one for you, Paul, the one with the cup of coffee in it.”
What has e-commerce meant to you over the last year?
“It was just several days ago that I got a text from my friend Gideon Kline that said, ‘You should make your work into NFTs.’ I had no idea what he was talking about, so I read up on it, and the next night, when I was driving down on my commute, there happened to be a huge story about it on NPR, and I tuned into that and learned a little bit more. By six o’clock that evening, my assistant Greg and I were opening a bitcoin wallet, transferring funds, and putting paintings up. Basically, everything that I know is everything that I have learned in the past three weeks – and it isn’t much. It’s kind of a big, vast confusing world.”
“We did an improvement of my website www.davidcraigellis.com. I gave up my Etsy site and opened a virtual store right on my site. There are about 150 paintings that are for sale on the website now as well as my T-shirts (which I silkscreen myself in my Dumbo studio), tote bags, and a new line of posters as well as a great selection of signed and numbered prints of my recent work. There is a pretty good representation of what I have been up to on the site. Thanks for mentioning it.”
Are you going to explore fractional ownership and speculative trading of your work?
“We are launching that as well. Although I have shown at several different galleries, and I have good relationships, I also have my own underground gallery in Brooklyn, which is a constantly changing and evolving show of my work. As it revolves and I sell and make new work, new work is shown. The whole thing comes up and down constantly. I like being in charge of my own sales, of my own career, so to speak. So it’s another great thing to look into.”
What have you been doing to get your art out there to dealers in other countries?
“I would say most of my success with those developments and introductions were started at Art Basil a few years ago. I was in a couple of shows there, and I ended up spending a fortune on taxi cabs running around all day and all night. I made some really, really great contacts, and some of them resulted in great deals coming through. That has been up and running for a few years.”
David, I know that I speak for all your friends and patrons in hoping that you are 110% better. It’s amazing to me that you can take time out of your Covid recovery to do this interview. And I am thrilled that you can continue to draw and occupy yourself in between cold sweats under the sheets and emergency runs to the bathroom.
“Thanks Paul. I look forward to being 110% better and especially done with this 110 degree fever, too. I ‘m grateful for doing this with you and for the great help that I got from Urgent Care and everyone who has been checking in with me and bringing me food to throw in the blender.”
I was sitting in with my dad’s pinochle game some years back when the animated conversation reached a bit of a lull, I chimed in asking Les Grollnick, a retired newspaper editor, what his son Don was up to. Don, kind of a legend in popular music, had followed up being Linda Ronstadt’s musical director with doing the same for none other than James Taylor. “Donnie’s woodshedding,” Les replied. Although I was no stranger to the music world – I had written reviews for Bruce Springsteen and even the likes of Genesis and the Who – I had never come across the term woodshedding before, so I took the bait. “Woodshedding is when a musician turns away from the outside world and settles in to write and arrange. They traditionally do this in February.” “Why,” I asked, “because it’s the shortest month and they’re loath to do it?” “No,” he responded, “because there isn’t much touring to be had; the holiday gigs are over, so it’s a time to catch up in the home studio and get work done.”
Please take note, this article is not about Don Grollnick or Bruce Springsteen or for that matter pinochle. It is intended to give you a look at a very gifted and creative composer – Keith Patchel. I have been familiar with Keith for many years, a journeyman guitarist who has backed up Richard Lloyd and was one of 200-plus musicians who were part of Rhys Chatham’s Lincoln Center extravaganza Crimson Grail in 2009. Keith himself has penned a great deal of work including film scores and performance pieces. We randomly met up for coffee in the West Village, and when he filled me in on his latest work, it became clear that an interview and in-depth profile were in order.
First, he related the story of a live performance that had gone down the previous Saturday night on the Lower East Side. I asked him how it went. “It was great; we played a MarsBand performance at the Ludlow House, which is part of the Soho House. I’m working with Dr. Paul Sutter who is a renowned astrophysicist on faculty at SUNY Stony Brook, so it’s sort of a science/entertainment package, but very interesting. I’m doing this combination of live music with Paul talking to us narrating a space talk, if you will, and it’s all synchronized with a movie that we created. So it’s a structured improvisation. I’m calling it AstroVisual Music, but it’s a multimedia, multi-genre of live music, film. and a narration of where we are in space and time. This one focused primarily on the solar system and some of the aspects of the moons of Jupiter. We have plans to keep expanding this as well. It’s a very exciting thing to do. It just felt so good to perform this live, and it was very well received by the audience. I was very pleased.
“I am accompanying Paul live with my laptop acting as my orchestra, so I have many different sounds and prerecorded segments that I am interacting with. Imagine a piano concerto, an old fashioned piano concerto, where you have your orchestra, and then you have your piano soloist. So in the live environment, I am taking on the role of the soloist, but I am continuously mixing and changing the combinations and relationships of the backing that I am playing with and the actual sounds that the piano is playing. The keyboard is more like a controller. It can sound like a harp; it can sound like any of the instruments of the orchestra.”
We know you as a composer, but should we also think of you as a guitarist?
“As we go further with this, I am planning to use guitar, but as of right now, the initial phase one, I am focusing on playing the keyboard. We need this particular instrument because it ties into the computer. Right now, I am the band.”
Can you tell me more about the visual component?
“Paul has made a movie drawing on NASA footage, astronomical footage, and he edited it together as a really beautiful and compelling film that is projected on one wall of the performance space from his laptop through an HDMI projector.”
Have you explored any Eternal or what we would call Sacred Mathematics that joins our universe or incorporated any of this into your compositions?
“Structures, yes, very much so. I got acquainted with Paul by reading one of his books, so I very much wanted to meet him. The music, some of the computational structure, is based on ratios, vertical and horizontal ratios, that are used to create a very unique sound structure, to create what I would call my own language that I’ve used over the past seven or eight years. I was doing some experimentation at the Museum of Natural History and did some performances up there. It gave me time to look around and think about a lot of things. It’s kind of medieval and alchemistic, the notion of science/math, the music of the spheres, reinterpreted by myself. It’s my particular take on it with an astrovisual slant.
“We did a MarsBand performance on February 3 on Zoom for the Boston Museum of Science, https://youtu.be/AD49ETSi1kQ. It was very well received; we had about 800 or 900 people viewing. For a first show, it was a very, very good result. We are talking about doing more work with them as well.
“I have been painting abstract work, which has informed my musical composition and also developing musical education software for kids. I am continuously composing music, plus painting, so I am always busy doing something. There is always something new to do. I have also started doing one-minute videos for TikTok for people learning how to play the guitar. Kind of a public service, just to put out some of my experience to help people.
“When I was in London, I was working with a producer named David Young who had done a lot of work with John Cale. I thought of myself as a really good guitarist, and I could play a lot of people’s music. I had my own band, but a lot of people were asking me to back them up as well. And I met Richard Lloyd through a guy named Joe Bidwell who had been John Cale’s keyboard player. Joe wanted to do his own thing, and I started playing with him. That’s how I met Richard. It didn’t last very long as they all had different ideas of where it was going, but Richard asked me to play with him.”
Can you reflect back of the events of 2020 and tell me how they affected your work?
“The last year has been solitary, though I’ve been very fortunate, as I have gotten a lot of work done. I’m always composing music as well as developing my start-up music-education software that is taking some interesting turns. I completed a National Science Foundation accelerated program in the fall and was green lighted to apply for a very large SBIR [Small Business Innovation Research] grant, I don’t know if I’ll get it and won’t know for several more months, but that has all been in process. Yes, it has been a solitary year, but I’ve managed to play some improvised jazz with friends of mine. There was a place out in Brooklyn that was open for a while, and we would get together and play there. I’ve also been giving lessons on Zoom. You’ve got to adapt, but I, like everyone, would like to come out into the world and play live music again.
“I have spent most of the last year alone at home working on things. It’s been a strange year, but I have also been very fortunate that I could stay healthy and get a lot of work done. I read several very deep music theory books that I have put off for some time, since I had the time to finally get to them. That has been kind of a beautiful blessing.”
I found the score to the Pluto Symphony to be surprisingly lyrical.
“I thought about this long and hard – I want to write music that reaches people. I want to write music that connects them to the visual experience that they are having. I’m creating music in this genre that I am calling AstroVisual Music that is related to what you are seeing and what you are feeling, the sense of majesty, timelessness, and vast, vast distances. That planet Earth is a minute speck in the galaxy, but our lives are very big and important to us. Powers of ten and powers of a thousand. I want to encourage people to embrace their humanity, I’m always filled with a sense of wonder when I look up at the sky at night. It is a very meditative and beautiful experience.
“Modern music is so very many things right now, so much more than Stravinsky and Schoenberg, Well, I can put it this way. I wanted to make a style of music that is not difficult for a person to absorb. The music is quite complex, but I always try to keep it lyrical.
“I’ve always tried to be very open minded about my influences. I’ve always loved classical music. I have a master’s degree in music theory and composition, classical guitar, and electronic music. I was just very open to looking at a lot of things. I did come up in an era when you had to be in one camp or another; you could only be into one. You couldn’t be a true punk rocker if you were into classical or electronic music, and I always shrugged my shoulders and said alright, let’s see. I think my intuition guided me in the right direction where today everything is a multiplexing of diverse musical styles and combinations feeding the creative process. My approach has always been eclectic.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
“Well, I see myself doing what I am doing now, but even more so – doing more with the MarsBand, working with my music-education interactive-software Plinkout, and continuing with my abstract painting. These are all things that keep me intensely happy, and I consider myself a very lucky man.”
Thank you Keith, I absolutely cannot wait to see the next MarsBand performance.
We always knew that it was a possibility. The experts warned of it. Movies and novels predicted it, but in February 2020 it happened here. A contagion circled the globe crossing national boundaries with ease. In March Spring Breakers flocked to the beaches and the bars. One Year and, half a million US deaths later, we have viable vaccines. A science denying Federal Administration has been replaced by one committed to saving lives and listening to the experts.
Ten or so years from now a child born during this difficult and challenging year will ask it’s parent “What was it like living in the year of Covid-19?” You might say “We all tried to help each other.” Or, “We all did our best to stay well and tried to adjust to ‘the new normal.’” Many of us lost loved ones. I have friends and colleagues who have lost ten or more friends or even multiple family members.
For many it was a time of isolation and self development while others took to the streets in Black Lives Matter protest marches and wanton riots. Others flaunted long guns and ran roughshod at state capital buildings ultimately culminating in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th. Tump lied and people died, more than half a million due to the virus to date.
When it looked like Covid-19 was really going to be a disaster, my first thought was that Trump would use it as an excuse to postpone the general election in November, Instead the states stepped up with more early voting, more mail in ballots which enfranchised more and most importantly allowed unprecedented numbers the opportunity to vote without compromising their and other people’s health.
I think of the national disgraces like March 2020 Spring Break Kid. As well as the second amendment wingnuts who feel that there should be less regulation of a deadly hand gun than the operation of a motor vehicle, as if anyone has the God given right to ride around on bald tires. We were confronted on the news with good ol’ boys and their women friends who claimed an infringement of their constitutional freedoms if they choose not to wear a mask.
They proclaimed, its their choice to make and if they should get sick then they get sick, BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL YOU INFECT ALONG THE WAY. We are witnessing what George Orwell warned about in 1984 the worshiping of a “Dear Leader,” the assault on the truth (replaced by vicious lies and dog whistles). The Politicization of the Evangelical Right’s assault on Science as “a point of view and not a fact.” This all has been going on for a very long time, this time the stakes were high. Millions are getting the vaccines now. That will help the economic rebound.
Let us never forget that we owe a dose of gratitude to our first responders and medical professionals as well as food service workers and essential workers and delivery people who took such careful care of us, all they asked of us is that we wore a mask. We are beating this Pandemic by working together as we experience the renewal of Spring let’s remember that there is Sun enough for everyone. In the midst on my darkest Winter I found within my an indomitable Summer.
People who know me well know that I have been practicing Feldenkrais ATM (awareness through movement) for more than 20 years. It has dramatically improved not only my health and fitness, but also my quality of life. Practitioner Frederick Schjang (pictured left) is hosting and presenting a Zoom, Free Feldenkrais Festival Starting Tuesday September 22. Open this link to register. feldenkraisfestivals.com.
See Elizabeth Zimmer’s piece in The Chelsea Community News on her experience of being introduced to Feldenkrais in Chelsea.
When I moved into Chelsea in 1979, there was a gritty edge to it, now nearly gone. With in three blocks of 7th ave and 23rd Street there were no less than three methadone clinics. Every block had a passable greasy spoon luncheonette serving full on breakfast specials for a couple of dollars, including bacon and juice. Not to mention the beloved Riss Restaurant now Murray’s Bagels where lovely Anita (who had at that time, the record for being Julliard’s youngest prodigy), would serve amazing home cooked dinners that never disappointed; a case in point, the lamb dinner always a pleaser at $4.75 including a soup or dessert.
Club Kids flocked to Danceiteria, The Dive, and Marty Feldman’s Snafu to enjoy history making live acts, as well as, some of the best Djs NYC had to offer. SquatTheatre performed such avant guard triumphs as The Many Loves of Andy Warholand Mr Dead and Mrs. Free. Sun Ra and his Archestra came up from Philly once a month to play a sound thumping performance often to a packed house, or sometimes to the benefit of only two or three folks in the audience. Vacant loft spaces in the 20s found new life hosting dance classes open to all for 7 or 8 dollars per class. Don’t even get me started about the Cuban and Spanish food on 8th ave so very dear to me now almost entirely gone.
Now with very few exceptions franchises and chain stores have taken over. Home Depot opened on 23rd St originally open 24 hours. The plan being to attract contractors who would take advantage of the central location, the off hours parking, and comprehensive inventory to be ready to go on local job sites. This didn’t work out, Home Depot scaled back their hours, and iconic neighborhood jewels Kove Brothers Hardware and SOS 24 Hour Locksmiths on 7th Ave continue to serve lucky and appreciative Chelsea residents.
When a neighbor had to rekey their security lock they were helped by a gentleman at SOS who insisted they could disassemble the lock and bring it in. They were asked to provide pictures of the lock, and easy instructions were provided that made it a piece of cake. I have had similar experiences at Kove Brothers, where a competent and helpful associate gave me just what I needed at a fair price.
There are precious few outdoor dinning options left in the neighborhood, Gasgone with fine French fare is all but a fleeting memory, I once had to negotiate for five minutes with the server who would not initially seat my party of three in the half empty garden on a balmy August night after I had, out of courtesy, informed her that we were only there for dessert and coffee.
My session musician friends will remember Night Owl Music a hop skip and a jump from the rehearsal and recording studios in the high 20s where I could pick up a mic cable or connection adapter plug anytime of the day or night topping off that day’s sound recording kit. I always paid a few bucks extra for shielded cables and never had a problem with any of their cables or plugs, although one snooty colleague accused me of “cheating by patronizing a music store.”
Now the High rise buildings are moving West from Sixth Avenue as more and more national franchises take over as commercial street level tenants. Domino’s Pizza was one of the first. Along with Radio Shack which replaced Papa Vincent’s Pizza and is now a Taco Bell “Cantina” (A Taco Bell with a Liquor License).
Fortunately we still have very good Dollar Pizza and the tomato pies of Detroit Pizza if you are feeling a bit fancy. In the past couple of years we have seen a big turnover of new restaurants opening. Many are still struggling to find a loyal clientele. A friend tells me that most are owned by young Hedge Fund Managers, few of whom know anything of the business.
We were very sorry to loose The Garden of Eden, where neighborhood bargain hounds would gather each night at 9pm to take advantage of the half priced hot and cold buffet. They were our first Health and Gourmet oriented Shop predating Whole Foods, Fairway and Trader Joe’s, now to replaced by Westside Market.
I guess that the message here is adapt to change, or else, it is impossible to find peace in one’s environment. I no more wish to glorify the past nor wish to be a forebear of future doom and gloom.
While constructing this Blog Post, the horrid pandemic crisis has struck, now Chelsea has
changed, which I will address in my next Blog Post Until then Be Safe and remember that
The Summer was hot, though not as hot as it might have been. The Yankees and Mets played far better than expected ball. The guys and I made our yearly trip out to Coney, to watch The Cyclones show their stuff. I launched a YouTube Chanel and will update it as time allows. Search under Paul Kornblueh and you will see Phil Gammage playing songs from his new CD “It’s All Real Good” & BTW it is all real good. www.youtube.com/itsallrealgood
I am continuing
From the vertical together apart. (c) 2014 Paul Kornblueh
Phil Gammage (c) 2019 Changing Chelsea Paul Kornblueh
with my quotidian street photography and am pleased to report that I am now selling work. Home prints at $50 large format pro prints on request. Help keep me in printer ink and digital memory cards.
Here are a selection of images from Chelsea Summer into Fall. Enjoy!!
All text and images (c) 2019 Changing Chelsea Paul Kornblueh, reposts by permission only.